Lincoln snaps Force winning streak by handing them their worst loss this season
FARGO-The streaking Fargo Force found their match Friday. Scheels Arena housed the two hottest teams in the United States Hockey League, as both Fargo and Lincoln had won nine out of 10. The Stars are now hotter, after a 7-2 win Friday."We've had...
FARGO-The streaking Fargo Force found their match Friday. Scheels Arena housed the two hottest teams in the United States Hockey League, as both Fargo and Lincoln had won nine out of 10. The Stars are now hotter, after a 7-2 win Friday.
"We've had some trouble with Lincoln in the past, but I don't think that they have anything that we can't handle," Force defenseman John Schuldt said. "I think that, as a team, we came out flat, which is disappointing, especially with the fact that these guys already beat us twice."
The Force had won six games in a row, never trailing in any of those games. They had outscored teams 31-7 during the winning streak. Force goalie Strauss Mann had won seven straight starts, tying the second longest winning streak for a goalie in team history.
Lincoln didn't seem to care about any of that, handing the Force their worst loss this season. The Force had not lost by more than three all season.
"You gotta respect your opponent," Schuldt said. "The two hottest teams in the league and I don't know, we must've got comfortable from having such a great weekend last weekend."
The Force have clinched a playoff spot, but are trying to get a first-round bye, which goes to the top two teams in each conference. They entered Friday in first place in the Western Conference via a tiebreaker over Waterloo with Omaha two points back in third and Sioux Falls three points back in fourth.
Sioux Falls beat Waterloo in overtime and Omaha won on Friday to make things very tight. Waterloo is now alone in first with 72 points, while the Force and Omaha have 71 points, with the Force owning the tiebreaker, and Sioux Falls is in fourth with 70 points. Waterloo, Omaha and Sioux Falls have each played one less game than the Force.
"We've got five left here and potentially, if we play hard in these five, that could save us three extra games and five days rest," Schuldt said. "We need these points more than anything, so we need to regroup here quick tonight, get this one past us and come out with a chip on our shoulder tomorrow and take it to these guys."
The Force didn't waste much time Friday, scoring 59 seconds into the game. Ben Meyers had the puck poked away in the slot, but Schuldt was there to scoop up the loose puck and fire in a wrister.
Lincoln dictated play from there.
Lincoln found the answer midway through the first. Christian Krygier maneuvered around two Force players, backhanded a pass to Paul Cotter from the right circle and there was nothing but net in front of him.
It had been 21 days since the Force trailed in a hockey game. Lincoln ended that streak 57 seconds into the second on Devlin McCabe's wrister from the top of the right circle. Carter Long's shot from the right point clipped the pad of Mann and slid underneath to put the Stars up 3-1 less than four minutes later.
"They made us make a lot of mistakes," Force coach Cary Eades said. "They played fast, they played unselfish and moved the puck. Our defensive awareness and responsibilities were not at the level where it needs to be to compete against a team like that."
Josiah Slavin's goal less than four minutes into the third put Lincoln up 4-1. The Stars added a goal 16 seconds into a five-on-three advantage on a one-timer from Cotter with 12 minutes, 49 seconds to go. Griffin Loughran scored two minutes later to cut the Lincoln lead to 5-2. The final chance for the Force (32-16-7) came on the stick of Sammy Steele, but his penalty shot with 4:15 remaining was stopped for one of Tomas Vomacka's 26 saves.
Lincoln (31-21-2) added two more for extra salt in the wound for the Force.
"Honestly, coach didn't have to say much," Schuldt said. "I think he knew that we knew what we needed to do and he knew that we absolutely came out terrible, and I think that he knows we can get each other back, dialed in and come out tomorrow and take it to these guys."
FIRST PERIOD: 1, F, Schuldt (Meyers, Fallstrom), 0:59. 2, L, Cotter (Ch. Krygier, Dornbach), 10:44.
SECOND PERIOD: 3, L, McCabe (Westlund, Co. Krygier), 0:57. 4, L, Long (Slavin), 4:24.
THIRD PERIOD: 5, L, Slavin (Westlund, McCabe), 3:47. 6, L, Cotter (Teravainen, Westlund), 7:27, pp. 7,F, Loughran (Stucker, Hebert), 9:32. 8, L, Calder (Dornbach, Cotter), 17:16. 9, L, Dubinsky (Calder, Co. Krygier), 19:08.
SAVES: L, Vomacka 11-9-6-26. F, Mann 7-12-11-30.